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The Police - Synchronicity

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: policsynch_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Synchronicity.

The choruses get LOUD and are so POWERFUL on the best copies they make a mockery of most of the pressings out there. This is a Big Speaker Record if ever there was one.

See all of our Sting / Police albums in stock


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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: jethrstand_obsess) 



STAND UP is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other JETHRO TULL albums.


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Phil Collins - Face Value

Whomp Factor

  (Item #: collifacev_whomp) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Until we heard some of the better copies we were simply not able to appreciate just how important good bass definition and serious weight down low are to the sound of this record. When the bass is wooly or thin, as it is on so many copies -- not clear, not deep, not full enough -- it throws the rest of the mix off. When the bass is huge and powerful the music itself becomes huge and powerful.

More Phil Collins and Genesis


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Deodato - Prelude

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: deodaprelu_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Listen to the trumpet on the second track on side one -- it's so immediate, it's practically JUMPING out of the soundfield, just bursting with energy. Rudy can really pull off these big productions on occasion, and this session was clearly one of them. If you have the kind of stereo that's right for this music (the bigger the better) you could easily find yourself using this record as a demonstration disc. It's very unlikely your audiophile friends have ever heard anything like it.

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Cat Stevens - Mona Bone Jakon

Notes from an Early Shootout (2007)

  (Item #: stevemonab_2007) 



This album is one of Cat's top four titles both musically and sonically. Tea and Teaser are in a league of their own, but this album and Catch Bull At Four are close behind. The music is WONDERFUL -- the best tracks (including I Wish I Wish and I Think I See The Light) rank right up there with anything from his catalog. Sonically, it's not an epic recording on the scale of Tea or Teaser [WRONG] but with Paul Samwell-Smith at the helm you can be sure it's an excellent sounding album -- on the right pressing.

More Mona Bone Jakon


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Weather Report - Heavy Weather

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: weathheavy_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

TWO AMAZING SIDES ON QUIET VINYL, including an A+++ side one! The sound was positively jumping out of the speakers and dynamic as all get out. The grit, grain and grunge of the typical pressing was nowhere to be found on EITHER side of this copy, and that alone puts it in a very special league. Drop the needle on either side and get ready for some of the most dynamic, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling jam-packed sound ever committed to vinyl.

More Weather Report


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Jimmy Smith - Any Number Can Win

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: smithanynu_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is one of Rudy Van Gelder’s TRIUMPHS and one of the best Jimmy Smith album I’ve ever heard. All of side one and the last cut of side two sound STUNNING! This is dynamic, big speaker sound.

More Jimmy Smith


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XTC - English Settlement

What to Listen For

  (Item #: xtc__engli_wtlf_2017) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF).

For Big Production Rock Albums like English Settlement there are some obvious problem areas that are often heard on at least one or two sides of practically any copy of this four sided album.

With so many heavily-produced instruments crammed into the soundfield, if the overall sound is at all veiled, recessed or smeared -- problems common to 90+% of the records we play in our shootouts -- the mix quickly becomes opaque, forcing the listener to work too hard to separate out the elements of interest.

A Big Speaker Record if ever there was one.


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Jimmy Smith - Bashin'

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: smithbashi_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Bashin' is back after a two and a half year hiatus, and it's back with a vengence -- both sides here are Super Hot, with some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album. In the past we've complained about "Rudy Van Gelder’s somewhat over the top echo-drenched brass", but on a copy such as this there is nothing to complain about!

More Jimmy Smith / More Oliver Nelson


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Caldera - Carnavalito!

Turn Up the Volume

  (Item #: caldeskyis_loud_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Carnavalito is a track that really comes ALIVE when you Crank Up the Volume. I played it FULL BLAST on two different occasions for audiophile friends of mine just to show them what happens when a Big Speaker Stereo meets a Large Scale Recording with absolutely AMAZING audiophile quality sound -- BIG and BOLD, wall to wall and then some!

It’s my favorite track not only for the album as a whole but for the band’s entire recorded output. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you have the system for it.

See all pressings of Sky Islands in stock


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Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: stillsteph_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

TWO YEARS LATER, Stephen Stills Hot Stampers are BACK! We’ve had an unbelievably hard time finding copies of this album that lived up to our expectations, prompting much of my crew to argue that it just could not be done. Folks, today is the day where the Doubting Thomases of Better Records are proven WRONG. We didn’t find copies that sounded just as good as I remembered -- no, we found copies that went BEYOND what I had hoped for. To the CSN(Y) fans who visit our site, and I know there are lots of you, prepare to be BLOWN AWAY. You are going to freak out over this record!

More Stephen Stills


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James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

Our Shootout Winner for 2008

  (Item #: taylosweet_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

It took three days, sixty seven copies, and multiple rounds, but SWEET BABY JAMES HOT STAMPERS ARE BACK! Both sides of this bad boy are DEMO QUALITY and ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. Add in the fact that the vinyl is unusually quiet, and you’ve got one heck of a copy here!

More James Taylor


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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Trilogy

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: emerstrilo_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This British Island Sunray LP has THE BEST SOUND WE’VE EVER HEARD for this album; it ranks right up there with the best sounding copies of the first album, a Top 100 Demo Disc! From The Beginning has the kind of analog magic that made it a staple in practically every stereo store I walked into throughout the '70s. (Even if the crappy speakers they were demonstrating didn't have much bass, this record had the kind of bottom end that would make you think they did.)

See all of our Emerson, Lake and Palmer albums in stock


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Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: hubbaredcl_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This original CTI pressing has two wonderful sides, including an AMAZING A+++ SIDE TWO! This side two has amazingly good Demo Disc sound. RVG knocked this one out of the park, that's for damn sure.

Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song Red Clay is possibly the funkiest jazz track he ever got down on tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience -- and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!

More Freddie Hubbard


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Neil Young - After the Gold Rush

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: youngafter_2011) 



This is amazing copy of AFTER THE GOLD RUSH and a member of our Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

It's an album we admit to being just a bit obsessed with. We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other NEIL YOUNG albums.


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Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis?

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: supercrisi_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including an A+++ SIDE ONE! It's not the A&M Half Speed, and it's not a British pressing either. It's domestic folks, your standard plain-as-day A&M pressing, and we're as shocked as you are. Hearing this copy (as well as an amazing Brit; they can be every bit as good, in their own way of course) was a THRILL, a thrill that's a step up in "thrillingness" over our previous favorite pressing, the Half Speed.

The best of the best domestics and Brits are bigger, livelier, punchier, more clear and just more REAL than the audiophile pressing...

More Crisis? What Crisis?


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Led Zeppelin - IV

With This Copy You Better Be Ready to Rock

  (Item #: ledze4_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

We did a massive shootout in 2012 for Zep's beloved fourth album and this British pressing earned a nearly perfect score with some of the BIGGEST, BOLDEST, HARDEST Rockin' sound we have ever heard on the album. Without a doubt this is the best sounding IV side two we've ever played, with the biggest bottom of them all.

More Led Zeppelin


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Bernstein / The Music of Leonard Bernstein / Rogers

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bernsmusic_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This London Phase 4 British import has some of the most SPECTACULAR sound I have ever heard reproduced from disc. The sound is so BIG and BOLD that it handily puts to shame 95% or more of all the Golden Age Shaded Dogs, London Bluebacks, Mercury Living Presence's, EMI's and Decca's we've ever played. If we had a Classical Top 100 list, this record would belong in a Top Ten taken from it, right near the top judging by what I heard when I played it.

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein


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Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: fleetrumou_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

White Hot Stampers for Rumours with UNBELIEVABLY GOOD SOUND (and quiet vinyl) FROM START TO FINISH! Folks, if you’re looking for a Demo Quality version of one of the most beloved pop albums of all time, this is the record for you! Side one was so darned good that we had to bust out the rare A++++ (Four Plus) grade, and side two is just about as amazing. It certainly ain’t a cheap record, but it’s beyond difficult to find copies of this classic with two sides that sound like this and play quietly. Trust us, we’ve been trying for years and have only come up with a small handful of copies that could even come close to this one.

More Rumours


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Chicago and The Hottest Stampers

Are You a Thrillseeker Too?

  (Item #: chicachica7_thrill) 



When it comes to sound, I'm a Thrillseeker. I want to hear it LOUDER and BETTER, with more ENERGY and EXCITEMENT, and the reason I spent so many hundreds, even thousands, of hours working on my stereo is that that kind of sound doesn't happen by accident. You have to work your ass off to get it. And spend a lot of money. And dig through a lot of dusty record bins buying LPs until you find one that sounds the way you want it to.

I don't play records to drink wine and smoke cigars. I play records to ROCK. Whether the music is rock, jazz or classical, I want to feel the power of the music just as you would feel it at the live event. To me that means big speakers and loud levels. We played Chicago VII as loud as we could...

More Chicago


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Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: chicachica1_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Chicago Transit Authority album.

The average copy of this album is an unmitigated DISASTER. The smeary brass alone is enough to drive anyone from the room. To a list of its faults you can confidently add some or all of the following: 1) blobby, blurry, out of control bass; 2) opaque veiled mids; 3) rolled off highs, or no highs, whichever the case may be, common to virtually every pressing you find (cont.)

More Chicago


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Phil Collins - Face Value

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: collifacev_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Minty British LP has two AMAZING SIDES! Song after song, Collins’ songwriting and musicianship shine with this breakout record. The sound on these Hot Stampers is VIBRANT! Side one has SUPERB extention on the top, PUNCHY BASS and excellent texture on the drums and percussion. Side two has BIG SOUND with really spacious strings and vocals.

More Phil Collins and Genesis


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Ted Heath - Swings In High Stereo

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: heathswing_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Super Hot Stamper has DEMO QUALITY SOUND. Just listen to Heath's arrangement of My Funny Valentine on side one, or Big Ben, the second track on side two, for audiophile Big Band sound. Many consider Ted Heath's early London recordings to be some of the best big band ever recorded. The American big bands rarely got the kind of sound that the Decca engineers were able to achieve on records like this. For one thing they didn't have Kingsway Hall, Kenneth Wilkinson or the Decca "Tree."

See all of our Large Jazz Ensemble albums in stock


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David Bowie - Let’s Dance

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: bowieletsd_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This Let’s Dance may look like an ordinary record, but it sure doesn’t sound like one. The sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD! You’re looking at THE Big Beat Demo Disc of All Time. What the Hot Stamper copy of Back in Black was to Super-Fidelity HARD Rock, this White Hot Stamper of Let’s Dance is to Super-Fidelity FUNKY Rock. In other words, this is the FREAKISHLY HOT STAMPER copy that gives you As Good As It Gets, Demo Disc, Mind Altering Sound.

More David Bowie


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Bad Company - Bad Company

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: badcobadco_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and a recording that comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

MONSTROUS MASTER TAPE SOUND! The sound was JUMPING out of the speakers and filling the room.

Sometimes a copy is just BIGGER than the others - it's somehow physically wider and taller than other pressings, how we haven't a clue -- and that's exactly what this copy had more of than any other: SIZE. If you've never heard a rock record like this -- and knowing how rare they are it's more than possible -- you are in for a treat here.

More Bad Company


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Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: nilssschmi_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO WONDERFUL SIDES, capable of delivering the Nilsson Schmilsson GENIUS in a way few copies out there can! We’re just wild about Harry ’round these parts, but it’s unbelievably difficult to find copies of his albums that sound any good. Beyond that, most of the Nilsson records out there in used record land are noisy, thanks to that super-high-quality RCA Dynaflex vinyl. (Your sarcasm detector should be going off like crazy right about now.)

Ah, but here’s a Nilsson Schmilsson that’s dramatically more audiophile-friendly than other copies.

More Harry Nilsson


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Santana - Abraxas

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: santaabrax_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

SABOR! This White Hot Stamper Abraxas has a KILLER A++ to A+++ SIDE ONE and a KNOCKOUT A+++ SIDE TWO! Just about everyone out there knows how good this music was, but I bet you didn’t know it could sound like this. The sound of the drums and percussion on this copy is OUT OF THE STRATOSPHERE.

More Abraxas


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: doorssoftp_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that's very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can't be beat.

More of The Doors


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10cc - Sheet Music

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: tenccsheet_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

A KILLER SIDE ONE backed with a STRONG side two. We just finished our first shootout in years for this great album and this copy has a side one that just couldn't be beat. The sound is lively, full-bodied and rich with exceptional clarity and transparency. Those of you who have gotten a kick out of our Deceptive Bends or Original Soundtrack albums are obviously going to find a lot to like here.

More 10cc


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Humble Pie - Performance - Rockin' The Fillmore

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: humblperfo_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

One of the best -- if not THE best -- rock concert albums we have ever heard. Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from the days when he was with Humble Pie this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than Comes Alive on even the best copies.

More Humble Pie / More Peter Frampton


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Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: zevonexcit_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

EXCELLENT SOUND on BOTH SIDES of this Asylum LP! We just finished a big ol' shootout for Warren Zevon's rockin', rollickin' 1978 classic! This copy has EXACTLY the kind of sound you want for this fun music, and most copies just don't have it. I'm talking about a BIG punchy bottom end, you-are-there immediacy and TONS of energy. Those are the qualities that bring a song like Werewolves Of London to a whole new level! Side one earned our top grade of A+++ while side two was just a half a plus behind. This is about As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) for this album.

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Boston - Boston

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bostobosto_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

MASTER TAPE SOUND! We just finished another big Boston shootout; stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but most copies are pretty darn mediocre. If you want to deal with grainy highs, hooded mids, leaned-out bass and on overall lack of enthusiasm on the part of the band, I suppose that’s your prerogative, but this music is a heckuva lot more fun when it sounds like it does on this White Hot Stamper!

More Boston


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Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: fleetfleet_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

In 2012 we noted that this WHITE HOT copy of Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album has some of THE BEST SOUND WE HAD EVER HEARD, not only for this album, but for the band itself. As good as the best copies of Rumours are, they don’t really sound like this. Until we started doing these shootouts in about 2006 we had no idea this album was remotely this well recorded. There are layers and layers of subtle instrumental textures and recording effects throughout 1975's Fleetwood Mac that we had never even suspected were there. Then we played this copy.

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Led Zeppelin - Presence

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: ledzeprese_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

A STUNNING side two (where Nobody's Fault But Mine can be found, one of the best Zep rockers of all time and the best reason to own this album), with MASSIVE room-filling size and rock ENERGY like you will not believe. How did they manage to get such rock and roll power into these grooves, the way they did on Zep II and IV? We can't even imagine, but it's there all right.

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Ten Years After - A Space in Time

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: tenyeaspac_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

MASTER TAPE SOUND on BOTH sides of this White Hot Stamper copy! Folks, it just does not get any better than this. It’s been more than two years (08/08) since last we embarked on a Hot Stamper shootout for this great album. I always knew it could sound good, but I sure never heard it sound like this! (I said that last time around too you may recall. Two years is a long time in audio. If your stereo and room are undergoing regular improvements, as they can and should be, the sound will be noticeably better every year, dramatically better after two.)

More Ten Years After


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Rod Stewart - Never A Dull Moment

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: stewanever_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The credit must go to the engineering of MIKE BOBAK for the DEMO DISC SOUND. We just finished our most comprehensive shootout ever for the album, culling the best sounding dozen from about twenty five entrants, and this copy just plain kicked all their butts, earning our highest grade on side one (A+++).

More Rod Stewart


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Roxy Music - Roxy Music

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: roxymroxym_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

The legendary first Roxy Music album returns to the site in tip top White Hot Stamper form, boasting no less than an incredible A+++ White Hot Side Two coupled with a superb A++ Super Hot Side One! Folks, it doesn't get much better than this!

In considering both music and sound, this is arguably the best record the band ever made. Siren, Avalon and Country Life are all musically sublime, but the first album has the kind of dynamic, energetic, POWERFUL sound that their other records simply never show us. And we've played them by the dozens, so there's a pretty good chance we will never find copies with the abundant richness and power we found here.

More Roxy Music


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801 - 801 Live

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: 801__live_2007) 



The best Island copies of this album ROCK HARDER than practically any record we've ever played. If you have the system for it, this one will bring a Live Art Rock concert right into your living room!

It's right at the top of the list of my Favorite Albums -- a Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. I stumbled across it more thirty years ago and I've loved it ever since. It all started when a college buddy played me the wildly original Tomorrow Never Knows from the album and asked me to name the tune. Eno's take is so different from The Beatles version that I confess it took me an embarrassingly long while to catch on.

More Phil Manzanera


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Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: jethrthick_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper copy of Thick As A Brick has the best side one we have ever heard! This copy is operating at A WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL.

Side one has HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound, with levels of Tubey Magic one would simply never expect to hear coming from a run-of-the-mill domestic Reprise pressing such as this. But here they are; there's no denying the transparency, size and rock and roll energy of this mind-boggling side one. It's truly a Demo Disc of the highest order.

More Thick As a Brick


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Yes - The Yes Album

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: yes__yesal_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Since this is Yes's Masterpiece, not to mention their most well-recorded album, that makes it pretty much a Must Own for anyone who loves their groundbreaking and enormously influential approach to the Extended Form.

More Yes


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Traffic - Best Of Traffic

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: traffbesto_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Island British Pink Label pressing has SOME OF THE BEST TRAFFIC SOUND YOU'LL EVER HEAR! We've been flipping out over Hot Stamper copies of this greatest hits comp for ages for a very simple, yet likely shocking, reason -- the sound on the best copies can be BETTER than the best original pressings! How can that be you ask, dumbfounded by the sheer ridiculousness of such a statement? Well, dear reader, I'll tell you. Follow me over the jump to find out.

More Steve Winwood / More Dave Mason


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Queen - News Of the World

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: queennewso_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This EMI import LP has TWO SUPERB DEMO DISC QUALITY SIDES! Each received an A+++, making this BY FAR THE BEST SINGLE COPY we have ever heard. This copy set a new standard for the sound of this album; we’ve never heard anything like it!

More Queen


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Peter Frampton - Wind of Change

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: frampwindo_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Frampton's debut MASTERPIECE.

Hot Stampers for one of our favorite Classic Rock records have finally made it to the site! This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (if you haven’t done so already).

More Peter Frampton


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Pink Floyd - The Wall

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: pinkfthewa_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

SAY IT ISN'T SO! This is the ULTIMATE White Hot Stamper pressing of The Wall, the finest ever to hit our site BAR NONE!

All four sides of this monster earned top A+++ grades in our massive recent shootout. This copy gives you ALL of the magic that Floyd laid down to tape. You get incredible clarity, breathtaking transparency, wonderful punch to the bottom, sweetness and full extension up top, tubey magical acoustic guitars, full-bodied vocals and serious depth and dimension to the soundfield. Folks, if you love The Wall you will TREASURE this copy for the rest of your listening days.

More Pink Floyd


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Weather Report - Heavy Weather

Finding the Rare Pressing with an Actual Top End

  (Item #: weathheavy_top_end) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

It has been our experience that the copies with high frequency extension and the clarity, space and percussive energy that results from it are consistently the best sounding. You may have read elsewhere on the site that what separates many of the best Columbia LPs from their competition is an open, extended top end. For some reason Columbia, more than most labels, had a habit of making slightly dull records. Dull does not work for this album.

More Weather Report


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Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eno__takin_listen) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

This album is all about sound, pure sound itself if you will: the sound of the instruments, their textures, and the textures of the soundscape Eno has created for them.

With the subtle harmonics of Eno's treated sounds captured onto vinyl intact, the magic of the experience far exceeds just another batch of catchy songs with clever arrangements. It truly becomes an immersive experience; sounds you've never heard in quite that way draw you into their world, each sound more interesting than the next.

More Brian Eno


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Emerson Lake & Palmer

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: emersemers_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

The Brit copies may take top honors for side one ("sweetness, openness, tubey magic, correct tonality, presence without aggressiveness, well-defined note-like bass, extended airy highs") but the Hot Stamper Cotillion copies KILL on side two. They really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl.

The Brits tend to be a bit too "pretty" sounding. They're too polite for this bombastic music. This music needs the whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic.

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Ted Heath - Shall We Dance

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: heathshall_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

One of the best sounding records we have ever played, the Gold Standard for Tubey Magical Big Band. Both sides are huge, rich, weighty and dynamic like few records you have ever heard. Three elements create the magic here: Kingsway Hall, Kenneth Wilkinson and the Decca "Tree" microphone setup.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan - The Sky Is Crying

Beyond White Hot Stamper Sound

  (Item #: vaughskyis_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another record that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Little Wing ROCKS AS HARD on this Four Plus pressing as any song we have ever heard, with DEMO DISC SOUND to rival the greatest rock records of all time.

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Santana - Inner Secrets

Santana's Guitar Solos Soar

  (Item #: santainner_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

On side two the final guitar solo Santana takes on Well All Right gets LOUDER in the mix than any guitar solo on any rock record with which I am familiar. The sound gets louder after the first chorus, then louder still right before the second solo, and then the solo itself gets even louder until it seems to be as loud as live music. (Operative word: seems.)

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Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

Jump into the Fire with Harry Nilsson

  (Item #: nilssschmi_wtlf) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Nilsson Schmilsson.

Jump Into The Fire is one of the best tests we used for side two. Copies that are too smooth make the "just bass and drums" intro sound thick and smeared. Too bright and the vocals will tear your head off. The "just right" copies rock from the start and never get too far out of control, even when Harry does. The best we can hope for is that the loudest vocal parts stay tolerable. Believe me, it is not that easy to find a copy that's listenable all the way through, not at the high volume I play the record at anyway!

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Elton John - Rock of the Westies

Rockin' Like No Other

  (Item #: john_rocko_rocks) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume AND a Forgotten Classic from 1975.

Rock of the Westies is a SHOCKINGLY better album than I remember it being from years back. It's a knockout, with a great bunch of Elton John / Bernie Taupin rockers that still hold up forty years later.

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Phil Manzanera - Diamond Head

Rhett Davies Truly Awesome Engineering Masterpiece

  (Item #: manzadiamo_masterpiece) 



You may recall reading this bit about RHETT DAVIES engineering on Dire Straits' debut:

"...until something better comes along, THIS IS HIS MASTERPIECE. It has to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, with Tubey Magic mids, prodigious bass, transparency and freedom from hi-fi-ishness and distortion like few rock recordings you have ever heard."

Well, something better has now come along, and it's called Diamond Head.

More Phil Manzanera and Roxy Music


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Rod Stewart - Never A Dull Moment

What to Listen For

  (Item #: stewanever_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of NADM.

Most copies tend to be dull, veiled, thick and congested, but the trick with the better pressings is being able to separate out the various parts with ease and hear right INTO the music.

Just listen to those meaty electric guitars, the note-like bass or that amazing snare drum sound with such a huge THWACK -- that's the raw power of rock n' roll, baby.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: mahavbirds_rocks_harder) 



What do you hear on the best Hot Stampers of Birds of Fire?

They just plain ROCK HARDER than the other copies we played.

But what really sets them apart is the tremendous ENERGY they contain in their grooves. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Birds of Fire like nothing you have ever heard.

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Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Expanding Space Itself

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_top_ten) 



Recently we played a copy with all the presence, all the richness, all the size and all the energy we ever hoped to hear from a top quality pressing of Dark Side of the Moon. It did it ALL and then some. The raging guitar solos (there are three of them) on Money seemed to somehow expand the system itself, making it bigger and more powerful than I have ever heard. Even our best copies of Blood Sweat and Tears have never managed to create such a huge space with that kind of raw power. This copy broke through all the barriers, taking the system to an entirely new level of sound.
More Dark Side of the Moon


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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: ledzehouse_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Led Zeppelin's momentous 1973 release, Houses of the Holy.

You really get an understanding of just how much of a production genius Jimmy Page was when you listen to a copy of Houses with the kind of resolution and transparency found on our best copies. To take just one example, just listen to how clearly the multi-tracked guitars can be heard in the different layers and areas of the soundstage. On some songs you will have no trouble picking out three, four and even more guitars playing, each with its own unique character.

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Gino Vannelli - Storm At Sunup

and The Amazing ARC SP3A-1

  (Item #: vannestorm_stereo) 



Storm at Sunup used to be my favorite Gino Vannelli album. I played it all the time back in the ’70s. It was one of a handful of recordings that made me want to pursue audiophile equipment in the hopes that higher quality playback would allow it to sound even bigger and more exciting. It was pretty damn big and exciting already, but I wanted more.

Right around that time I got my first audiophile tube preamp, the Audio Research SP3A-1, which replaced a Crown IC-150. As you can no doubt imagine, especially if you know the IC-150 at all well, playing this album through that state-of-the-art tube preamp was a revelation. From then on there was no looking back. I started spending all my money on better and better equipment and more and more records. That was forty plus years ago and I haven't stopped yet.

More on The Stereo


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Big Speakers, Loud Levels and More Power to the Orchestra

  (Item #: mussopictu_6177) 



The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not recreate the full weight of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like no other. It's also tonally correct. It's not agressive. It's not irritating. It's just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That's what really caught my ear when I first played Ansermet's recording.

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Yes - Fragile

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: yes__fragi_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with plenty of advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Fragile.

EDDIE OFFORD took charge of Yes's engineering with Time and a Word (1970) and we are very lucky that he did. Although his masterpiece is surely ELP's first album, both The Yes Album and Fragile are so well recorded they clearly belong at the top of any list of All Time Great Sounding Rock Albums.

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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

What to Listen For

  (Item #: chabrorche_wtlf_2016) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

On many copies the strings are dry, lacking Tubey Magic. This is decidedly not our sound, although it can easily be heard on many London pressings, the kind we've played by the hundreds over the years. If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange that so many moving coils have these days, you will not notice this tonality issue nearly as much as we do. Our 17D3 is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard.

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)


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Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights

Bigger, Taller, Wider, Deeper

  (Item #: thompshoot_size) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what to listen for (WTLF).

One of the qualities we don't talk about nearly enough on the site is the SIZE of a record's presentation. Some copies of the album don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. Other copies do, creating a huge soundfield from which the instruments and voices positively jump out of the speakers.

When you hear a copy that can do that, needless to say (at least to anyone who's actually bought some of our best Hot Stamper pressings) it's an entirely different listening experience.

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Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac

A Demo Disc for Bass

  (Item #: fleetfleet_bass) 



Another in our series of Demo Discs for Bass.

One of the special qualities this album has is AMAZINGLY well-defined, punchy, deep BASS -- the kind you just never hear on most records (or most pressings of this album for that matter).

The bass is typically bloated on most copies of this album, something that is especially true for the MoFi. When you get a copy with note-like, properly balanced bass, the whole album works. Bass is the foundation of the music. When the bass is blubbery and ill-defined, the music itself sounds blurred. It loses its focus.

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The Doobie Brothers - Toulouse Street

Templeman, Barncard and Landee Work Their Magic

  (Item #: doobitoulo_wtlf) 



Two of our favorite engineers worked their magic on this one: STEPHEN BARNCARD and DONN LANDEE. This copy surely has all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, but it's the size, space and clarity here that really shocked us.
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Michael Jackson's Off The Wall Vs. Thriller

Which Album Has the Real Tubey Magic?

  (Item #: jacksoffth_wtlf) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Off the Wall has better sound than Thriller you say?

Yes. As consistently brilliant as Thriller may be musically -- it is the biggest selling album of all time after all -- speaking strictly in terms of sonics the best copies of Off the Wall are substantially sweeter, tubier, more natural, richer, and more ANALOG than Thriller.

See all of our Michael Jackson albums in stock


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James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: taylosweet_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

This White Hot Stamper is GUARANTEED to BLOW YOUR MIND, as James himself so famously sings on Steamroller here, and you can be sure that he never heard it sound any better on playback than it does here. This is truly Master Tape Sound -- transparent, present and Tubey Magical, the kind of sound that only the best pressings from the era can lay claim to. If you've got the stereo to play it, this record may become your new favorite Demo Disc. Yes, it's that good.

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Supertramp - Crime of the Century

Loud Levels and Big Woofers

  (Item #: supercrime_loud) 



Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The bass on the best copies is AWESOME. Playing a Hot Stamper copy at loud levels with big woofers will have your house quaking. Add to that the kind of ENERGY that the better pressings have in their grooves and the result is an album guaranteed to bring most audiophile systems to their knees, begging for mercy.

More Crime of the Century


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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: blackblack_2015) 



Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

We played the album very loud, as loud as we could, and still we wanted more volume! That's what a good record is all about -- the louder you play it the better it sounds.

If you like the raw, rockin’ sound of early Zep, you should have a blast with this album. It's a shockingly good recording, and the music is of course as heavy as it gets for 1970.

More Black Sabbath


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Crack The Sky - Animal Notes

What To Listen For

  (Item #: crackanima_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Crack the Sky records.

The best vintage rock recordings usually have something going for them that few recordings made after the '70s do: their choruses get big and loud, yet stay smooth, natural and uncongested.

We've mentioned it in countless listings. So many records have -- to one degree or another -- harsh, hard, gritty, shrill, congested choruses. When the choruses get loud they become unpleasant, and here at Better Records you lose a lot of points when that happens.

More Crack the Sky


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlabbey_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Abbey Road.

Those of you who follow the site (or do your own shootouts) know that it’s much tougher to find great copies of Abbey Road than it is for MMT or Please Please Me. Most of the copies we’ve played just aren’t good enough to put on the site. For whatever reasons -- probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks -- Abbey Road is arguably the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles' catalog.

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The Cars - Candy-O

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: cars_candy_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of The Cars' second album.

This is one of our favorite recordings -- a former member of our Top 100 -- for one very simple reason: it's got Big Rock Sound in spades! Drop the needle on Let's Go and check out the sound of the big floor tom. When the drummer bangs on that thing, you will FEEL it! It's similar to the effect of being in the room with live musicians -- the difference between just hearing music and also feeling it. That's what you get from a Hot Stamper copy.

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10cc - The Original Soundtrack

The Best Sounding Record on the Site?

  (Item #: tenccorigi_depth) 



On any given day a Super Hot side one (or better) of The Original Soundtrack might be the best sounding record on the site.

"On any given day" being a day when we don't have a hot German copy of Dark Side of the Moon to offer, or a killer Eagles first album, or a top copy of the self-titled BS&T, or an RL Zep II, or a White Hot Teaser and the Firecat. Most days we don't have such records on the site, and on those days this 10cc album is a recording Tour De Force that would be bigger, bolder, more dynamic, and simply more powerful than any other record we could throw against it.

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The Cars - The Cars

Ramping Up the Horsepower Like Crazy

  (Item #: cars_cars_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the classic first Cars album.

The best copies must have one absolutely essential quality if this groundbreaking New Wave album is to come to life -- a huge, spacious soundstage.

More of The Cars


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Queen - News Of The World

Stomping and Clapping with the Fans

  (Item #: queennewso_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of NOTW.

Side one starts out with Queen's back-to-back anthemic classics, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions". Does it get any better for a Queen fan? Hell no!

The stomps and claps that introduce the former should make you feel like you are in a stadium full of people with a single goal - to rock you. Those stomps and claps need weight and clarity, an unusual combination. One without the other is not going to cut it.

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Earth, Wind, Fire and the

Neverending Search for Balance

  (Item #: earthbesto_exercise) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises. As is usually the case when plowing through a big pile of copies, we learned pretty quickly that what makes the sound work is having these two qualities in balance:

1) Richness / Smoothness
2) Transparency

When the vocals are thin and pinched, as they often are, the resulting edginess and harshness in the midrange take all the fun out of the music. Every track has group vocals and choruses, and the best copies make all the singers sound like they are standing in a big room, shoulder to shoulder, belting it out live and in living color.

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In the Market for New Speakers?

See How Well They Handle the Energy of Far More Drums

  (Item #: brubetimef_exercise) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The drum solo Joe Morello lets loose on Far More Drums is one of the best on record. I was playing that very song recently and it occurred to me that it is practically impossible for a screen or panel speaker of any nature to reproduce the sound of those drums properly, regardless of how many subs you have.

Most of the music is not in the deeper bass anyway. It’s the whack of instruments whose energy is in the lower midrange and midrange that a screen speaker will struggle with, while a good large-driver dynamic speaker seems to handle the energy in that range with ease.

See all Dave Brubeck albums in stock


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Steeleye Span - Commoners Crown

We Love Dynamic Choruses, and These Are Amazing!

  (Item #: steelcommo_listen) 



Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is one of the rare pop/rock albums that actually has actual, measurable, serious dynamic contrasts in its levels as it moves from the verses to the choruses of many songs . The second track on side two, Demon Lover, is a perfect example. Not only are the choruses noticeably louder than the verses, but later on in the song the choruses get REALLY LOUD, louder than the choruses of 99 out of 100 rock/pop records we audition. It sometimes takes a record like this to open your ears to how compressed practically everything else you own is.

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Cat Stevens - Teaser & The Firecat

Light, Medium or Heavy on the Congas?

  (Item #: stevetease_congamania) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises, in this case, a study in Congamania!

During the shootout for this record a while back we made a very important discovery, a seemingly obvious one but one that nevertheless had eluded us for the past twenty plus years (so how obvious could it have been?). It became clear, for the first time, what accounts for the wide disparity in ENERGY and DRIVE from one copy to the next. We can sum it up for you in one five letter word, and that word is conga.

See all of our Cat Stevens albums in stock


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Dire Straits - A Tour de Force by Rhett Davies

We Knew It Back in 2007

  (Item #: diresdires_davies) 



This Vertigo British pressing of Dire Straits’ wonderful debut has ABSOLUTELY THE BEST SOUND for this album we have ever heard. Folks, this one just can’t be beat. AGAIG is our shorthand for As Good As It Gets, and that’s an understatement when it comes to the sound of this copy. It blew the doors off every record we put up against it; every Vertigo pressing, regardless of country of manufacture or era. If you're looking for The World Champion, this copy holds the title and is very unlikely to be giving it up any time soon.
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Yes, We're Getting Awfully Close To The Edge

Are Your Planets Aligned?

  (Item #: yes__close_planets) 



A word of caution: Even our Hottest Stamper copies can sound problematical unless your system is firing on all cylinders. Your electricity has got to be cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and ideally you should be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record itself, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.

This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward you many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process.

More Yes


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What We Listen For on Elvis Costello's Trust

The Bass Is (Almost) All

  (Item #: costetrust_listen) 



There’s a TON of low-end on this record; regrettably, most copies suffer from either a lack of bass or a lack of bass definition. I can’t tell you how much you’re missing when the bass isn’t right on this album. (Or if you have the typical bass-shy audiophile speaker, yuck.)

It’s without a doubt THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of the sound on this album. When the bass is right, everything falls into place, and the music comes powerfully to life. When the bass is lacking or ill-defined, the music seems labored; the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs blur together, and the band just doesn’t swing the way it’s supposed to.

More Elvis Costello


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My Aim Is True Can Really Rock

If You Have the Speaker System to Play It

  (Item #: costemyaim_volume) 



Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There is a line in the Hot Stamper commentary below concerning driving punk rock bass. Man, this record lives or dies by your ability to reproduce the powerful bottom end that propels this music. Pardon me for cueing up a broken record again, and with all due respect to the things they do well -- they must do something well, right? People keep buying them -- small speakers and screens are not going to cut it on My Aim Is True. This is precisely the kind of album they don’t do well.

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Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story

His Best Sounding Album Bar None

  (Item #: stewaevery_loud) 



I Know I’m Losing You ROCKS AS HARD as any song from the period, with DEMO DISC SOUND. If you have BIG DYNAMIC SPEAKERS and the power to drive them to serious listening levels, you will be blown away by the power of this recording. You know what this album is? It's the Nirvana Nevermind of the early '70s. It has that kind of power in the bass and drums.

But it also has beautifully realized acoustic guitars and mandolins, something that virtually no recording for the last twenty years can claim. In that sense it towers over Nevermind, an album I hold in very high esteem.

More Rod Stewart


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The Dynamic Energy of Neil Young and His Crazy Horse Pals

They're LIVE in the Studio

  (Item #: youngzuma_listen) 



Another in our series of Random Thoughts and observations on recording-related issues.

Hot Stampers are all about finding those rare and very special pressings that manage to represent the master tape at its best.

Notice I did not say ACCURATELY represent the master tape, because the master tape may have faults that need to be corrected, and the only way to do that is in the mastering phase. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that fidelity to the master tape should never be, and rarely is, the goal of the mastering engineer.

More Neil Young


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The Turn Up Your Volume Test

Blood Sweat and Tears

  (Item #: bloodblood_loud) 



In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. I may be biased because I like the music so much, but played on a Big Speaker System a Hot Stamper pressing is nothing less than ASTOUNDING, the ultimate Demo Disc. It has the power of LIVE MUSIC.

You don't find that on a record too often, practically never in fact. I put this record at the top of The Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time link (seen on the left) and said it was in a class of its own for good reason -- IT IS IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN.

More Blood, Sweat & Tears


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